The European structured products association has reported €313 billion open interest and turnover rising across reporting markets.

Turnover in investment and leverage products on reporting European financial markets was up 14% quarter on quarter and four percent year on year in the first quarter of 2022, bringing the total to E€45 billion, according to the European Structured Investment Products Association (Eusipa).

First-quarter turnover in investment products on European trading venues amounted to €13 billion, 30% of total traded volume. Investment product turnover decreased by seven percent quarter on quarter and by 25% compared with Q1 2021.

The economic environment clearly creates challenges in other areas of the economy, but it benefits structured products - Thomas Wulf, Eusipa

Turnover in leverage products including warrants, knock-out warrants, and constant leverage certificates reached €31 billion in the period from January to March, representing 70% of total turnover. In addition, turnover in leverage products increased by 25% year on year and by 26% from Q4 2021.

At the end of March, the market volume of investment products stood at €300 billion – a stable figure quarter on quarter and up six percent year on year. The outstanding volume of leverage products totalled EUR 12 billion at the end of March. This represents a 17% increase on a year-on-year basis.

“That milestone is testament to investor confidence and recognition for the people who have worked so hard to make the sector investor friendly in sometimes difficult conditions,” Thomas Wulf (pictured), secretary general at Eusipa, told SRP.

“But I think the most important thing is what we can expect in our immediate future given recent macroeconomic shifts. The economic environment clearly creates challenges in other areas of the economy, but it benefits structured products in terms of both demand and structuring opportunities.”

According to Wulf, inflation pressure means investors got to get out of cash while almost sideways-moving stock markets is triggering a shift away from delta one products which are in direct competition with ETFs, and towards a focus on yield enhancement.

“Rising interest rates also mean more favourable zero-coupon bond pricing, which brings the possibility of greater participation in the underlying asset’s evolution, especially for a fully capital protected product,” he said. “This is a mix makes that makes our product landscape really attractive. I think that’s going to be the story for the months and maybe even years ahead.”

At the end of March, trading venues located in reporting EUSIPA markets were offering 406,794 investment products and 1,514,788 leverage products. As such, the number of listed products increased by 7 percent on a quarterly basis and by 9 percent on the previous year.

Banks issued 1,862,048 new investment and leverage products in the first quarter of 2022, up 37% on the previous quarter and up 35% annually. In total, 157,478 new investment products were launched, accounting for eight percent of new issues; the 1,704,570 new leverage products represent 92% of the total. There were five percent more investment products launched than in the same quarter of 2021. On the leverage products side, issuance increased by 36% from Q4 2021 and by 39% on an annual basis.

For Austria, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, the market volume of investment and leverage products issued as securities decreased by 1 billion compared to the last quarter to a total amount of €313 billion but increased by seven percent year on year.

Industry agenda

Following the European Commission statement on the application date of new Priips rules yesterday, Wulf noted that a key element on the association’s agenda is ESG.

“There are two levels of discussion as far as ESG products are concerned,” said Wulf.

One is the question of taxonomy and how product providers “establish the ESG credentials of a product when looking at the many evaluation parameters, often with a national slant, such as exclusion thresholds, permissible sectors and so on”.

The other, and the one currently under discussion at the Eusipa level, is how methodologically product providers can assess a structured product and its components from an ESG perspective.

“Where you look, and what you look at,” Wulf said. “This is an evolving debate, which requires a lot of fundamental insight into how balance sheets and specific components, such as derivates for hedging purposes, can contribute to ESG targets. We’re working at high speed on this issue and will be giving guidance to our members in the coming weeks.”

Retail Investment Strategy

According to Wulf, the ESG question is somewhat linked to the other big regulatory item on Europe’s roadmap - the EC’s forthcoming Retail Investment Strategy review, which is aimed at harmonising consumer protection across asset classes and wrappers.

“The structured products industry will have to respond to the commission’s first announcements on the review as early as October, though more likely towards the end of the year or January,” said Wulf.

“The question for us will be how far the review goes in recalibrating the system. We know they are looking at Mifid again, and the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD), and probably will be taking Priips to the next level, with all the opportunities and challenges that brings.”

Eusipa knows the EC plan to introduce a new type of customer segment, the semi-professional investor, and probably will introduce new approaches such as the concept of ‘value for money’, and also expects it will  hopefully fix the issues “they’ve struggled to resolve so far, such as harmonising Mifid and Priips costs”.

“In terms of harmonisation you can imagine everything or nothing at this stage – it’s a black box,” said Wulf. “Ideally, the outcome will be driven by an overarching vision. It will be a roadmap towards a more consolidated piece of framework legislation for retail financial services, with the same set of rules for insurance or banking products or securitised notes, and the same level of investor protection.”

The danger, according to Wulf, is that the vision may get lost in the execution.

“We may end up with a piecemeal approach, with provision taken from one area of law and applied where it may or may not fit. We hope of course for the former,” he said.

Click the link to read the full Eusipa Q1 2022 market report on structured investment and leverage products.